Representatives from the Town of Vail, Colorado Department of Transportation, Kraemer North America and the public gathered at the site of the new I-70 Vail underpass on Friday, Oct. 13 to celebrate a successful project completion and officially open the underpass to vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic. Officials also announced a new name for the underpass — the Sandstone Underpass. The North and South Frontage Roads in Vail have also returned to their normal, two-way configuration as of Friday, Oct. 6. This $30.1 million project finished ahead of schedule and on budget.
Speakers at the grand opening celebration included: Dave Eller, CDOT, Region 3 Transportation Director; Mike Lewis, CDOT, Deputy Executive Director; John Cater, Federal Highway Administration, Colorado Division Administrator; Andy Daly, former Town of Vail Mayor; and Dave Chapin, Town of Vail Mayor.
“The underpass provides ease of travel for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians that will connect our community in so many ways,” said Chapin, representing the Town of Vail. “We can’t thank everyone enough for their patience during the construction process and we commend the construction management team for their tremendous coordination in getting the work done ahead of schedule and on budget.”
The underpass project has been discussed in the Town of Vail since the 1980s and has been part of the Town’s Transportation Master Plan since 1993.
The new underpass will improve connectivity and pedestrian safety and reduce travel time between the North and South Frontage Roads. The new underpass also links the North Recreation Path to the Gore Valley Trail. In addition to improving safety, the underpass will reduce congestion at the West Vail and Vail Town Center interchanges and improve utility service and emergency service response times.
“Today is an opportunity for the project team to thank the entire Town of Vail community for their patience and understanding during construction,” said Matt Figgs, CDOT Project Engineer. “The Vail Underpass project has been a testament to the great collaboration between CDOT and the Town of Vail, as well as the general contractor Kraemer and the numerous subcontractors involved in delivering a beautiful final product.”
Through the Town of Vail Art in Public Places program, the South Frontage Road roundabout features the work of artist Gordon Huether. His piece, dubbed “Roundabout the Mountain,” is composed of two offset layers of slatted steel, designed to diminish headlight glare, and takes the form of a mountain range, seamlessly blending with Vail’s natural beauty and the underpass aesthetics.
Although the new underpass is now open, construction crews will still be working on site through early November completing project clean up and final finishing work. Alternating lane closures are possible along I-70 next week, allowing crews to complete final lane girding and rumble strip installation.
The I-70 Vail Underpass project began construction in spring 2016 and created an additional underpass near I-70 mile point 175, connecting the North and South Frontage Roads between the Vail Town Center and West Vail interchanges.
Time Lapse of Sandstone Underpass Construction